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Consultation and Advocacy in General Mental Health Counseling

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1. Consultation is widely used in various facets of life such as relationships, careers, and even daily conversation with strangers. Consultation utilized in the medical field, such as Mental Health Counseling, is different than use in everyday life. "Consultation is a relationship between professionals or other pertinent persons for the purpose of aiding the consultee(s)" (Carney and Jefferson, 2014). Consultants aid their consultee by assisting with difficult cases, additional network of resources, and "addressing a challenge in a mental health program" (Carney and Jefferson, 2014). Consulting is similar yet slightly different than supervision. Supervision is based on a significantly longer interaction time frame, where as consulting is meant to be temporary, yet work towards the purpose of instigating positive independence and confidence in the consultee.

Advocacy is defined by Toporek ad Liu as "action taken by a counseling professional to facilitate the removal of external and institutional barriers to clients' well being" (Toporek, Lewis, Crethar, 2009). Advocacy is based on two goals: positive empowerment of the client and facilitate changes in the internal and external environmental factors to allow for awareness of the client's needs (Toporek, Lewis, Crethar, 2009). Advocacy is important in counseling because it allows the counselor to intervene slightly to create a positive change on the client's behalf.

An example of advocacy in the mental health counseling profession would be a counselor calling facilities to find a beneficial environment for the client. This could be a client who recently lost their housing and are in search of a new place to go, or a counselor finding a client a room in a mental health facility for additional treatment.

2. Consultation and advocacy, while similar, function differently for different purposes, yet are both intended to facilitate a positive outcome for the best interest of the client. The main difference between the two is the parties acknowledged. Consulting is typically done between two working professionals or a trusted advisor. The consultant helps the consultee with difficult cases or challenges present in a program. In this case, it is likely that the consultant to the consultee will not come into contact with the client. Advocacy is more directed towards community or professional resources that will help the client. In these cases, the client may opt to see additional resources outside of their counselor, to use the previously mentioned example of the client in need of a mental health facility. In this case, the counselor may locate a facility and arrange for the client to attend said facility, i.e. treatment for a condition.

I would use consulting when I would need another professional's opinion in regards to my client. Advocacy would be used when I would need to act on behalf of my client. For example, I have a client that believes they are beginning to develop an addiction and requests further treatment. First, I would consult with another professional about my relationship with my client, my perception of their addiction and any concerns I may have witnessed during our sessions, and my consultant's input based on what kind of treatment facility would be most beneficial or if it is necessary to test my client at this point in time. The next step is to discuss the options with my client and figure out what best suits their needs. The next step is utilizing advocacy by checking for suitable facilities in the desired area and contacting someone to gain information on treatment plans and requirements of the facility and further discuss this with my client.

3. The other two specializations, psychology and social work, are utilized based on the needs of the client. If I felt the client appears to suffer from depression, and agrees to testing, I would consult and advocate to a psychologist. If the client needed housing, i.e. a battered woman seeking shelter, I would utilize professionals in the field of social work as they are more knowledgeable about the community and programs available.

4. Advocacy is ultimately a positive tool to utilize in the field of Mental Health Counseling as is provides a greater chance of positive changes or results for a client and the expansion of knowledge and skill depth for counselors themselves. Advocacy also benefits in that it results in quicker action to change to resolve an apparent issue.

As a mental health counselor I would know be able to prescribe medication to my clients. However I can prevent to be tested, and if necessary – receive medication, from a psychiatrist. If I didn't see any implications of depression, I would consult with another counselor on the matter and proceed to find the best treatment for my client.

One foreseeable barrier could be the difference in opinion – the client, consultant, and me – on whether the client would need medication. However, that would be decided based on the consultation, and whether I would feel best to have the client tested and the yielded results.

1. The concept of the case I chose in General Mental Health Counseling could be a frequent occurrence. In any case I find it best to consult with another individual – one who is more experienced than I in regards to the subject matter- for example depression or addiction; and whether advocacy is necessary for that particular situation and client.

2. There could be three foreseeable institutional and social barriers that could impede success from my client. The first being a language barrier and understanding the representation of some words, possibly culturally, compared to my own. One simple example is the difference in the name of "Coke," "soda," or "pop," in regards to the north and south of the United States.

The second barrier that could impede success could be gifted institutional requirements for treatment facilities or necessary requirements met for the treatment or care to begin. If my client is unable to meet facility requirements, I must keep looking or discuss my final findings of my client.

The third barrier is my client's willingness to try a different treatment method, facility, counselor, or doctor. As in my case, what if I am the only person my client trusts desires to interact with during the treatment? In any of these situations, consultation may be extremely resourceful.

3. In order to understand multicultural issues and advocate for diverse populations it's best to the research. I like research their beliefs, values, and morals culturally. It is also important to understand why her client stands in regards to their own culture. Some individuals may associate themselves with one culture, yet not fully accept or indulge in cultural characteristics or events that are regarded as "normal."

In any case, it is best to research your client's cultural background. Advocating in similar cases with different backgrounds also requires further depth into other areas of their life. For example, some client's cultures are deeply religious and it's possible that they would feel more comfortable in a faith based treatment facility versus a non-faith-based facility organization.

4. I can foresee one issue that may impede advocacy and that is laws in regards to what or how I am legally allowed to advocate for my client; and that is the requirements on the government level when dealing with insurance institutions and facilities. Some insurance institutions correlate with the government on some of their laws and regulations. That may affect the amount of treatment a client can afford. There have been cases where individuals lose, can't afford insurance, or a ford care out of pocket to receive the care they need.  


Carney, J. M., & Jefferson, J. F. (2014). Consultation for mental health counselors: Opportunities and guidelines for private practice. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 36(4), 302-314. Retrieved from

Toporek, R. L., Lewis, J. A., & Crethar, H. C. (2009). Promoting systemic change through the ACA advocacy competencies.Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, 87(3), 260-268. Retrieved from



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